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Object Timeline

1939

  • Work on this object began.

2016

2019

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3920 Vanity, 1939

This is a Vanity. It was designed by Gilbert Rohde and manufactured by Herman Miller Furniture Company. It is dated 1939 and we acquired it in 2016. Its medium is east indian laurel, sequoia burl, oak, acrylic, brass, patinated steel, leather, plate glass, mirrored glass. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

The vanity was the most specifically gendered object in the modern bedroom. Design historian Kristina Wilson has written on how every part of the vanity was about display: “display of the tools for beauty,” “display of the woman in the mirror, making herself up for display before others” and as a flamboyant piece of furniture, the vanity itself was on display within the interior decoration scheme. [1] This elegant example, designed by Gilbert Rohde for Herman Miller, amplifies its display capabilities with a triplicate mirror arrangement, allowing the woman to see herself at multiple angles. The round shape of the mirrors is mimicked in the concave curve of the furniture form itself, enveloping its female user in her moment of beautification. The circular outline appears again and is multiplied in the round door pulls, three on each side. The center glass semicircular shelf would have facilitated a floating arrangement of cosmetics in what appeared to be mid-air. During the twelve years that Rohde served as a consultant for Herman Miller, the vanity was a standard component for almost every bedroom group that he designed for the company. [2]

[1] Kristina Wilson, Livable Modernism: Interior Decoration and Design During the Great Depression (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2004), 123-5.

[2] Phyllis Ross, Gilbert Rohde: Modern Design for Modern Living (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2009), 68.

This object was donated by George R. Kravis II. It is credited Gift of George R. Kravis II.

  • Desk (USA), ca. 1933
  • lacquered wood, painted canvas, chromed metal.
  • Gift of Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz.
  • 2006-24-1

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Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 127 × 127 × 43.2 cm (50 × 50 × 17 in.)

Cite this object as

3920 Vanity, 1939; Designed by Gilbert Rohde (American, 1894–1944); east indian laurel, sequoia burl, oak, acrylic, brass, patinated steel, leather, plate glass, mirrored glass; H x W x D: 127 × 127 × 43.2 cm (50 × 50 × 17 in.); Gift of George R. Kravis II; 2016-5-19-a/d

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Energizing the Everyday: Gifts From the George R. Kravis II Collection.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/420556875/ |title=3920 Vanity, 1939 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=24 September 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>